Unforced Rhythms of Grace
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Eddie Gibbs says churches have great strategies for gathering but very few have strategies for scattering. It would take some truly secure pastors to do that because so much of the role of church and the professionalized pastor is based on people gathering. This needs to be turned inside out. It sounds like what you are doing in these meetings is the vocational development of pastors. I was recently coaching a pastor who is asking questions like, how am I wired? What are my gifts? As a coach, I encourage them to listen; like the Preacher in the sculpture garden, I help them put their hands to their ears.
Those are the driving questions in a coaching setting.
Then I recommend some resources or introduce them to a person who is also wrestling with this or has come out on the other side of this issue. John 10 is such an anchoring passage in terms of listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. The ears are the most underdeveloped and underappreciated element of our spiritual formation. The story of Moses and the burning bush is illustrative on this point. Exodus 3 says the bush was burning but not burning up. There are some Jewish rabbis that have talked about how long it would take for you to watch a bush burn in order to realize its not being consumed.
Thirty minutes? An hour? One rabbi even suggested that there might have been multiple people who noticed the burning bush but just kept walking. There is a lot to be gleaned about vocation and calling in this passage.
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The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. JRB : Yes. Eugene Peterson has been a pen pal and mentor of mine for the last 12 years.
Unforced Rhythms of Grace
I write him questions and he sends a letter back. Help your people do that. My job is not to do it for others. My job is to model that attention and appropriate response for others, to encourage them, and to plead with them to do it. Think about Jonah. Jonah knew exactly what he was supposed to be doing.
It really is about paying attention and responding appropriately. TWI : It seems like listening is a huge part of your practices as a pastor, and that the activity of listening is how you serve the communities you are a part of. Would you make a distinction between the types of listening you do in the different settings and communities you find yourself a part of?
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JRB : Prayer and paying attention are essential. Wisdom and discernment are irreplaceable in this process, although many leaders would love to give the equation for how to live faithfully.
Our church gives people a form, but not a formula. We give people intention, not an equation. Community has a huge role in this process, and vocation divorced from community can lead to a lot of justification and rationalization of the unwise. I love what the Quakers do. In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer tells a story of having members of his community sit around him when he was about to take a job as a college president. But he had already made up his mind to take the job.
They suggested that maybe there was an easier way to get his picture in the paper. That is the role of community at its best.
Unforced Rhythms of Grace
Every speaking engagement or writing situation, I send to this team of six people—friends, family, one of our elders —and they function as sort of a board of directors in my head. I bounce it off of them, and they ask simple and purposeful questions. As a recovering people pleaser, their questions can help me say no.
The team helps me with discerning not only my vocation but also the direction and rhythm of my vocation, which is just as important. Prayer and the community around you are crucial. For a hurried, paced, and pressured life is not worth living. In rest and true worship you will find your rhythm and real self alive and accounted for. Jesus is our rest. Sometimes we may not fully recognize this contemplation until our senior years of generativity, when we come to a realization of our true nature and are able to give back to life and others.
Our call from God comes out of our rest. Post Views: 1, Contemporary cognitive science agrees. Recent studies have proven that we are better off reducing the amount of notes and noise in our lives. One University of London study found that constant emailing and text-messaging reduces mental capacity by an average of 10 points on IQ tests. Herbert Benson, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, has given a clear description of why breakouts work from his research into the science of the brain.
Here's an example: You're sitting at your computer, pounding out what you hope will be a hot new article on, let's say, how to create the right rhythms in life. But you're stuck on one sentence and you keep plugging away, but no word emerges. So you keep pushing. But the creativity never flows. Using research from neuroscience and brain mapping, Benson describes that up to a point, stress helps us to think better. Beyond that, however, it frustrates us.
If you keep pushing yourself when you're at a dead end, your "primitive brain" the deep core that drives basic functions and raw emotions goes wild. That's when you feel fearful, angry, forgetful, frustrated, etc. Benson warns: If you push on, you do it at your own risk. In other words, when you see these signs, it's time to switch gears.
So breakout! Breathe deeply. Float in the pool. Beat a drum. Fold laundry. As the steppers put it, "Let go and let God.
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Countless possibilities emerge, but the key is to do something completely different. Then the stress function is relieved and creativity emerges. Imaging studies suggest that deep meditation and creative activity lead to "coherence" -- a synchronizing of the logical left brain with the intuitive right brain. There we enter into a cool Latin term, vis mediatrix naturae -- or, loosely translated, "the power of natural healing.
Often it won't be easy.